Plant-Based Thyroid. When I first started researching and learning how to heal from this thyroid cancer diagnosis, I came across so many wonderful references validating the power of using food as medicine. The father of medicine known for his popular quote… “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” Hippocrates nails this concept as it is backed by science that we are what we eat. Our God has given us foods that have the power to keep us healthy and support anyone’s healing journey. Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.” Genesis 1:29
Because the thyroid correlates with our hormones, our metabolism, and other bodily functions… it is important that we are always nourishing this precious gland!
As a thyroid cancer thriver I will tell you right now, it is never too early nor too late to start thinking about your thyroid and all that it can do for you. How it’s something we should think about now and then- are we getting proper nourishment for this powerful little gland?
I am here to give you my top 10 thyroid healing foods, with a little research mixed in, so that you can have a list readily accessible when you are grocery shopping. Once it’s in your kitchen, you won’t even need to think twice about making sure you are getting thyroid healing foods!
Let’s get into it.
1. Brazil Nuts
Brazil nuts are an easy and simple snack to add into your day and what’s great is that you don’t need very many! 2-3 will do the trick. The reason why Brazil nuts are so amazing for the thyroid is that they are full of selenium. Our thyroid has more selenium content than any other organ in the entire body. There have even been studies that suggest that selenium deficiencies can be a big cause of thyroid disorders. So keep your selenium up!
2. Pumpkin Seeds
Another quick snack to keep handy for your thyroid health is pumpkin seeds! This is because pumpkin seeds are loaded with zinc. Why is Zinc important to the thyroid? It is crucial to have enough zinc for the synthesis of our thyroid hormones. In fact, zinc deficiencies can often lead to hypothyroidism, which is a very common problem in today’s society.
We should also note that thyroid hormones are needed for the absorption of zinc, therefore hypothyroidism can lead to a zinc deficiency in our bodies.
Some people love the taste of seaweed and some don’t. If you are averse to the taste of seaweed, time to try to make that work for you! 😉 Whether you disguise it in dressings or seasonings, it’s important to get it in if you have thyroid issues or want to prevent them.
Seaweed is high in iodine so we should always be searching for foods high in natural iodine. The best kind of seaweed? Kombu and wakame.
In order for our thyroid to function properly, it requires the trace mineral which we call iodine. It requires it to synthesize the needed amounts of thyroid hormones. There have even been medical studies showing that having even a mild iodine deficiencies can lead to thyroid disorders.
Here’s another great reference on iodine and the thyroid.
4. Lima Beans
Let’s talk about another iodine rich food- Lima beans! One cup of Lima beans will give you 10% of your daily iodine needs. Remember that every little thing adds up. Beyond getting that 10% of daily iodine needs, Lima beans are also good for the thyroid because they also are a great source of selenium. It’s a one-two punch with lima beans!
The third reason I wanted to add Lima Beans is that they are full of fiber and many people who deal with hypothyroidism also deal with constipation (see this analysis here.) On this list for thyroid healing foods, fiber is an important component!
If you follow me on Instagram, you know that avocados are always found on top of my salads! The reason for that is many, but as it pertains to the thyroid, I reach for avocados because they are full of tyrosine! Tyrosine is an amino acid and did you know that hypothyroidism has been linked to having low levels?
Avocados are always a really strong source of monounsaturated fats and antioxidants, both of which help our thyroids keep up with the rest of our bodily processes! Avocados are very high in fiber which again will really help those with gut issues that stem from hypothyroid issues.
Maca helps hormones, and hormones and thyroid can hand in hand. This 2006 study shows just how powerful Maca can be, having even a substantial impact on post menopausal women! One teaspoon a day of organic, raw, gelatinized maca can do wonders for your thyroid hormones.
It’s important to keep in mind that the thyroid has a leading role in our endocrine system, and this helps regulate our metabolism. The thyroid glands are what is controlling your metabolism, by way of the thyroid hormone. Another great thing about maca is that is can help provide extra endurance throughout the day, which can also support the metabolism.
Cilantro is not just a pretty herb to mix into your guacamole on taco night, it’s an herb that can do amazing things for your thyroid! The first thing to note about Cilantro is that is can help detox heavy metals. One of the biggest quantities of metals it helps detox is mercury, and those with hypothyroidism commonly are in need of a mercury detox!
Cilantro is also a warming herb, and warming herbs are great for revving up the metabolism. Those with thyroid issues know we can use all the help with metabolism function as we can get, and as I always say, little things add up! It’s easy to sprinkle cilantro onto meals as a garnish or use it in the seasoning. I am also a fan of using cilantro in my juices, a little bit goes a long way.
Okay, cranberries are tart! But I promise you they can be easily disguised in acai bowls and smoothies. Also, I am not talking about the sugar laden cranberry juice that we see in most super markets- I am talking about raw, organic cranberries in their natural form. Only one ingredient, frozen or fresh is fine.
Cranberries contain a whopping 400 mcg of iodine per 1/2 cup! That right there is pure fuel for your thyroid hormones, specifically the production T3 and T4. Check out this study that touches on iodine supplementation and the thyroid and how cranberries are a go-to source!
We should also note that with that ½ cup of cranberries, we are getting 2.5 grams of fiber! Which again, helps digestional issues.
9. Coconut Oil
Did you know that coconut oil can have a natural stimulating effect on our thyroid glands? Oh yes, it is a saturated fat that can help support thyroid function!
An article for Doctor’s Hospital does a great job talking about how switching to using coconut oil in your cooking from time to time can help your thyroid do what it needs to do on a daily basis. The main reason they like it for their patients with underactive thyroid is because it can help with the metabolism due to coconut oil’s unique medium-chain-fatty acids.
Some people even enjoy using it in their coffees. By the way, check out my article about ways I supercharge my coffee each morning, it’s a quick read with easy tips!
I wanted to include a healing food that also brings in the liver, because the liver helps to activate thyroid hormones. The liver also helps us detox, and healthy detox pathways help our thyroid production!
So why artichokes? Artichokes contain cynarin which help the liver, but also- one medium artichoke contains 7 grams of fiber! If you read this whole list, you know that fiber is important for gut issues and how gut health and the thyroid are closely tied together. Harvard even named artichoke it’s vegetable of the month once and said how great it was for the liver! Read this other study on how artichokes can help the liver, the studies are aplenty! I know it seems like everything is tied to the thyroid, but it makes sense as the body is a holistic being and it is not until we tap into holistic wellness that we will truly find the root causes of what is going on with our health.
Don’t give up! Food is medicine, and every day can get you closer and closer to a healthier functioning thyroid.
Thyroid Boosting Guacamole Recipe
You know how we referenced guacamole in our Thyroid Healing Foods list? Well, we wanted to give you a version of guacamole that has four of those healing foods in one simple recipe!
You can eat this guacamole with healthy chips, or simply use it to dip carrots and celery in! It’s a fun twist, and extra tasty!